Jobs to 2008 MobileMe Team: Why The %@&# Doesn’t It Do That?

In 2008, MobileMe had some problems out of the gate, and according to a new “Inside Apple” piece that Fortune magazine will publish later this week, that resulted in a sharp reprimand from Apple CEO Steve Jobs, an immediate change in executive leadership for the project, and changes in the team’s membership.

According to the magazine’s sources, Mr. Jobs called the MobileMe team into a town hall meeting in one of Apple’s auditoriums after the service launched with problems and garnered unflattering reviews from noted tech commentators like Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Jobs reportedly asked the assembled engineers and other MobileMe team members, “Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?” When one of those employees then volunteered a satisfactory answer, Mr. Jobs followed up with, “So why the fuck doesn’t it do that?”

Steve Jobs asks a question

He then spent some 30 minutes berating the team, telling them that they had “tarnished Apple’s reputation,” and that they, “should hate each other for having let each other down.”

He added, “[Walt] Mossberg, our friend, is no longer writing good things about us.”

According to Fortune, this sort of straight talk and personal accountability is at the heart of how Apple does what it does. The magic we see as users is due in part to the reality that, “[Apple] is a brutal and unforgiving place, where accountability is strictly enforced, decisions are swift, and communication is articulated clearly from the top.”

Fortune is also cleverly using a piece about the inner workings of Apple to promote its iPad app. The article is part of the May issue, and will be pushed out to iPad (and Kindle) on May 11th. The iPad app is free, and users can buy the May issue for US$4.99. Print subscribers can access the iPad edition for free.

Fortune also posted a related video interview with former Apple engineer Andrew Borovsky on what it’s like to work inside the company.

Fortune interview with former Apple engineer Andrew Borovsky